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Ambassador warns politicians on delaying Global Forum legislation

Friday, November 10, 2017
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary-US and the OAS for Antigua and Barbuda, Ronald Sanders. PICTURE ANISTO ALVES

Ahead of the Global Forum package of legislation being laid in the Parliament for debate, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary-US and the OAS for Antigua and Barbuda, Ronald Sanders yesterday warned against political rivalry hampering the passage of the legislation and its implementation in T&T.

If the Global Forum legislation is not passed and implemented it could have repercussions for T&T's financial sector such as de-banking.

In a statement expressing their concern, the Banker's Association of T&T said that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had put T&T on its grey list.

However, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi at a news conference this week, stated that even though T&T performed poorly in the third and fourth round assessments by FATF it had been spared as a result of the legislative framework in place.

The Government needs the support from the Opposition to pass the Global Forum legislation, which is similar to the FATCA/TIEA legislation, which needs a three fifiths majority to pass in the Parliament.

Speaking yesterday at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of T&T two-day conference held at Hyatt hotel, Sanders said the Global Forum legislation should not be treated like a political football due to its seriousness and the impact it could have on T&T if the legislation is not passed.

"It would be considerably harmful if T&T continues to appear on the OECD's black list. It is incumbent on the private sector, the experts in finance and banking to join with the Government in working out how best T&T can meet the demands of the OECD while we remain competitive.

"It is a task that can only be successfully accomplished if Government and the private sector work together, importantly this work should not be allowed to become a football in the game of party political rivalry."

He added that, "An Opposition political party delaying legislative action in the pursuit of delivering a black eye to the Government would only worsen the situation."

On a wider basis, Sanders said the Global Forum package of legislation on tax evasion and money laundering as well as FATF legislation applies a broad brush of tax measures on all countries even though the business profile and the external environment of Caricom countries are different from countries internationally.

"Automatic exchange of tax information, false branding of countries as tax havens while the real tax havens continue to thrive and sanctions on non-cooperative jurisdictions is an effective form of control by the powerful on the weak."

"Why do Caricom countries which are affected by it, not jointly resist these impositions that disadvantage their jurisdictions and make them uncompetitive in their financial system? The reality is that horse has already bolted."

He suggested that Caricom member States should have a collective voice to speak out about regulations and rules posed by the OECD on tax, since Caricom member States are small island States and not as large as Europe or other countries.

At present, he said there is no political will too stand up as a collective group to speak out.


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